April 11, 2018

PDS Boys’ Lax Gets Rare Win Over Lawrenceville As Sophomore Bennett Helps Trigger Offense

BREAKING THROUGH: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Jake Bennett battles past a foe in a recent game. Sophomore attackman Bennett tallied four goals and two assists to help PDS defeat Lawrenceville 13-11 last Wednesday. It was the Panthers’ first win over the Big Red since 1981. The Panthers, who improved to 3-1 by defeating Springside-Chestnut Hill (Pa.) 11-7 last Friday, are slated to play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 14 before hosting Seton Hall Prep on April 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having been dominated by Lawrenceville over the years, the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team was looking to flip the script when the local rivals met last Wednesday.

“We came into it with a really good game plan,” said PDS sophomore attackman Jake Bennett, reflecting on the matchup which last saw the Panthers post a win in 1981. “In the past, they have had a lot more numbers than us and they pushed transition a lot. Here we wanted to get the ball and settle down a little bit.”

PDS settled into a good rhythm early on, jumping out to a 9-1 halftime lead. “We were able to hold the ball a little more,” said Bennett. “After we got a couple of goals, we started figuring out that they were doing and the skip passing was working really well.”

The Panthers had to work hard to hold off a late rally by Big Red, pulling out a 13-11 win and hugging each other as they celebrated the landmark win.“That was huge for us; I remember two years ago we lost by one and last year we were beaten pretty handily,” said Bennett. “So to come back after that and get a good one like that was amazing, especially to do it with all of my teammates.”

In Bennett’s view, a key to the victory for PDS was balanced scoring which saw Elon Tuckman, Cal Caputo, Jack Konopka, and Coby Auslander each score two goals.

“The offense isn’t based around any one person; you find a pocket of space or if you are able to get a good dodge, someone will definitely find you,” said Bennett.

“I think nearly all of our goals were assisted. I don’t think there was any where there was one person running through the entire defense. We are able to get rotations and find the open guy.”

Bennett, for his part, was able to get open against the Big Red, tallying four goals and two assists in the victory.

“My first two goals were both off a pass where I was given a really good shot from 10 yards or so,” said Bennett.

“After that, I felt a little confidence and I started dodging a little bit more and had a little success with that.”

The performance against the Big Red exemplified the progress Bennett has made since his freshman season.

“I think the way teams approach me is a little different; last year in the first couple games coming in as a freshman no one really knew what I was able to do,” said Bennett, who had a goal and two assists as PDS defeated Springside-Chestnut Hill (Pa.) 11-7 last Friday in improving to 3-1.

“I have to be a little more creative. Last year, I would just come up the right side and get a shot that way. We have to move the ball a little more and get it in rotation. Just the aspect of being more conscious of what the defense is doing and how they are playing me has really helped.”

Playing with senior star Tuckman has helped create additional scoring opportunities for Bennett.

“Another great thing is having Elon; he is probably the best player I have have ever been with on the field,” asserted Bennett. “He has such great vision and he is able to draw the slides. If you get open, he will definitely find you. That has made it a lot easier for me.”

While Bennett is encouraged by PDS’ 3-1 start, he knows that there is room for improvement.

“We have played really well in the first half against the big teams,” said Bennett.

“But in the second half, our numbers have shown that we have gotten a little tired, so I think being able to finish games and staying strong for all four quarters is a big focus. It is getting away from that weariness in the fourth quarters and being able to still win face-offs to get the ball and run our offense.”